Scientific journal

New Psychological Research

Khoroshilov D.A. Ontological, social and psychological precarity: ways of interaction in transitive society

Dmitry A. Khoroshilov, Ph.D., Russian State University for the Humanities, Moscow, Russia; bld. 6, Miusskaya square, Moscow, Russia, 125993; d.khoroshilov@gmail.com

This article examines the phenomenology of the experience of precarity (vulnerability, fragility, and insecurity of a person who finds himself in a situation of uncertainty and transitivity). The following three levels of analysis of the named state are distinguished: 1) ontological (based on the arguments of the French philosopher E. Levinas about the initial openness of subjectivity in the face of the Other), 2) social (the research of precarity as a constituent characteristic of a new «dangerous» class of precariat based on the works of G. Standing, J. Butler, and other authors) and 3) psychological. The semantically close, but still different in their accents, concepts of precarity (a state of uncertainty in the future, shortening of the time perspective, anxiety), precariat (a social community, which includes individuals from different classes who do not have stable employment and are deprived of social guarantees), precarization and precariousness (a sharp deterioration of working conditions due to the globalization of the economy and increased competition) are specified. Based on P. Bourdieu’s concept of habitus, compared with theories of cognitive schemes, social representations, and collective emotions, a hypothesis is proposed about the existence of a special precarious habitus in modern society. The central psychological structure of the precarious habitus is anxiety as a negative emotional reaction to the frustration of individualization and the lack of sufficient institutional support in solving social problems. The duality of the practice of individualization of precarity is discussed, which at the same time provides resources for coping with a situation of instability and uncertainty, and increases the singularity of society as the disintegration of social ties and support networks due to the attribution of responsibility for making risky decisions to individuals rather than communities. The article presents the results of an empirical study of the experience and perception of precarity, carried out in the design of a qualitative methodology using visual methods, focus groups, and thematic analysis. In the conclusion of the article, it is argued that precarity is an existential experience of transitivity, returning to the philosophical problem of intersubjectivity of consciousness and responsibility for the suffering and pain of the Other (according to the same E. Levinas).

Key words: transitivity, precarity, habitus, collective emotions, individualization

For citation: Khoroshilov, D.A. (2021). Ontological, social and psychological precarity: ways of interaction in transitive society. New Psychological Research, No. 2, pp.  64–83, DOI: 10.51217/npsyresearch_2021_01_02_04

Acknowledgment

The study was supported by the Russian Foundation for Basic Research, project 20-013-00799\21 «Socio-psychological mechanisms of somatization and hypochondrization in the information society».

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keywords: transitivity, precarity, habitus, collective emotions, individualization

received 22 June 2021

published 22 June 2021

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